A recent change to the law means that if you were unmarried but living with a partner who died between 2001 and 8 February 2023, and you
were getting child benefit for your children, you may be able to get thousands of pounds in backdated bereavement benefits.
But don’t delay. If both conditions apply, you must claim the money soon – the deadline is 8 February 2024. So the hunt is on for an estimated 16,000 people who are entitled to this money but have not yet claimed it.
A major change in the law on 9 February 2023 means bereaved unmarried partners, who had dependent children (or were pregnant) at the time their partner died, are now entitled to bereavement benefits equally with married or civil-partnered parents. This change was forced on the Government by the Supreme Court, which ruled that it was unlawful to exclude children from bereavement benefits just because their parents chose not to be married or in a civil partnership.
The judgement was given on 30 August 2018, and those who would have been entitled to bereavement benefit on that date if the law had always allowed unmarried people to claim, can claim benefits backdated to then. The death itself could go back as far as 2001 if, by 30 August 2018, you would still have been entitled to money for a dependent child. The survivor must have been under state pension age at the time of the death, but the age of the deceased is irrelevant.
If the death occurred on 6 April 2017 or later, the benefit you can claim is Bereavement Support Payment (BSP), which is a total of £9,800 tax-free and which does not affect other benefits. For earlier deaths, the benefit is Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA), paid from 30 August 2018 until your youngest child is no longer dependent. That can be worth even more, but is not tax-free and can affect other benefits.
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For more information, go to the gov.uk website and search or “bereavement support payment” or call the Bereavement Service helpline on 0800 151 2012. There’s also information at childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk and widowedandyoung.org.uk.